Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Gremlins" the reason to be scared of the holidays

TITLE: "Gremlins"
STARS: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller
EDITOR: Tina Hirsch
AWARDS: Best Director (Dante), Best Horror Film, Best Music, Best Special Effects, Best Supporting Actress (Polly Holliday) (Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA)
BOX OFFICE: $153,083,102 (USA)
RUN TIME: 106 min.

When Billy (Galligan) is given a new pet for Christmas, he is also given three rules to obey. Keep it away from bright lights (sunlight will kill it), don't get it wet, and above all else, never feed it after midnight. Billy is about to find out how hard it is to keep those rules, and how horrible the consequences are.

"Gremlins" is a film that changed the game when it was released in 1984. It is largely credited as being a strong reason for the release of the PG-13 rating from the MPAA. It's merchandising was unheard of at the time, and its box-office success lead to many imitators.

Joe Dante was hired by producer, Steven Spielberg, to work on "Gremlins" based on his previous work on "The Howling" (1982), one of the foremost horror films of the decade. Dante wanted to make a film that was more family friendly, and emphasized the comedic parts of the story. This created one of the first purposeful horror/comedies of the 1980's. The family oriented story falls apart about halfway through as the mischievous creatures ransack the town, killing locals, and finding messy ends themselves. Many parents left theaters during screenings, due to a misleading add campaign, and the PG rating. This film, along with Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1982) helped the ratings board put forth the new PG-13 rating, which has since risen in popularity.

Besides the success at the box office, dolls, books, cassettes, records, and action figures all helped raise the earnings of the film. Even the famed Furby dolls of the 1990's had a "Gremlins" version. All of this success lead to countless imitators, including such films as: "Critters" (1986), "Ghoulies" (1985), "Munchies" (1987), and many more.

This film spawned one sequel, "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990), which did not fare as well at the box office, but has since gained a cult status, and is regularly regarded as one of the great sequels in Hollywood history. The sequel followed more of the comedy elements of the original rather than focus on horror, and even parodied this film.

This is one of those films that will stay with someone after they see it. Watching it as a child gave this writer a nostalgic feeling when popping into the DVD player this last weekend. It's focus on dark humor, with some legitimate scares, fine acting, and fun set pieces add to an exciting movie-watching experience.

Anyone who saw this as a child will continue to love it. People who see it as adults will still find plenty of entertainment, it is not, after-all, a children's film. For horror fans, this is a must see, as well as for comedy fans. For everyone else, it is still well worth the time put in.
MY IMDb RATING:  9 out of 10

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